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Pricing Payment Cards

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  • ?zlem Bedre-Defolie
  • Emilio Calvano

Abstract

Payment card networks, such as Visa, require merchants' banks to pay substantial "interchange" fees to cardholders' banks, on a per transaction basis. This paper shows that a network's profi t-maximizing fee induces an inefficient price structure, over-subsidizing card usage and over-taxing merchants. We show that this distortion is systematic and arises from the fact that consumers make two distinct decisions (membership and usage) whereas merchants make only one (membership). In general, we contribute to the theory of two-sided markets by introducing a model that distinguishes between extensive and intensive margins,thereby explaining why two-part tarif fs are useful pricing tools for platforms.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 206-31

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:5:y:2013:i:3:p:206-31

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.3.206
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References

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  1. Stuart E. Weiner & Julian Wright, 2005. "Interchange fees in various countries: developments and determinants," Payments System Research Working Paper PSR WP 05-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  2. repec:reg:wpaper:105 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Chakravorti Sujit, 2003. "Theory of Credit Card Networks: A Survey of the Literature," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-19, June.
  4. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2010. "Competitive Non-linear Pricing and Bundling," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 30-60.
  5. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Marcus, Scott & Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2003. " Internet Interconnection and the Off-Net-Cost Pricing Principle," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 370-90, Summer.
  6. Hendrik J. Brouwer & Chair, 2005. "General discussion : Weiner-Wright : Interchange fees in various countries : developments and determinants," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May, pages 65-72.
  7. Evans, David & Schmalensee, Richard, 2005. "The Economics of Interchange Fees and Their Regulation: An Overview," Working papers 18181, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  8. Alan S. Frankel, 2005. "Interchange fees in various countries : developments and determinants : commentary on Weiner and Wright," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May, pages 51-64.
  9. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 990-1029, 06.
  10. Armstrong, Mark, 2001. "The theory of access pricing and interconnection," MPRA Paper 15608, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Baxter, William F, 1983. "Bank Interchange of Transactional Paper: Legal and Economic Perspectives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 541-88, October.
  12. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics Of Payment Card Associations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 549-570, Winter.
  13. Richard Schmalensee, 2001. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," NBER Working Papers 8256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Graeme Guthrie & Julian Wright, 2003. "Competing Payment Schemes," Departmental Working Papers wp0311, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
  15. repec:reg:rpubli:105 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Rochet Jean-Charles, 2003. "The Theory of Interchange Fees: A Synthesis of Recent Contributions," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-28, June.
  17. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P, 2003. "The Neutrality of Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  18. Gans Joshua S & King Stephen P., 2003. "Approaches to Regulating Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(2), pages 1-21, June.
  19. Julian Wright, 2004. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-26, 03.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Anna Creti & Marianne Verdier, 2011. "Fraud, Investments and Liability Regimes in Payment Platforms," EconomiX Working Papers 2011-31, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  2. Wilko Bolt & Sujit Chakravorti, 2010. "Digitization of Retail Payment," DNB Working Papers 270, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  3. Economides, Nicholas & Henriques, David, 2011. "To surcharge or not to surcharge? A two-sided market perspective of the no-surchage rule," Working Paper Series 1388, European Central Bank.
  4. Andre Veiga & E. Glen Weyl, 2011. "Multidimensional Heterogeneity and Platform Design," Working Papers 11-33, NET Institute, revised Nov 2011.
  5. James McAndrews & Zhu Wang, 2012. "The economics of two-sided payment card markets: pricing, adoption and usage," Working Paper 12-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. Marc Bourreau & Marianne Verdier, 2010. "Cooperation for Innovation in Payment Systems: The Case of Mobile Payments," EconomiX Working Papers 2010-5, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  7. Reisinger, Markus, 2010. "Unique Equilibrium in Two-Part Tariff Competition between Two-Sided Platforms," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 308, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  8. Verdier, Marianne, 2012. "Interchange fees and inefficiencies in the substitution between debit cards and cash," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 682-696.
  9. Wilko Bolt & Heiko Schmiedel, 2010. "SEPA, Efficiency, and Payment Card Competition," DNB Working Papers 239, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  10. Reisinger, Markus, 2014. "Two-part tariff competition between two-sided platforms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 168-180.
  11. Alexander White & E. Glen Weyl, 2010. "Imperfect Platform Competition: A General Framework," Working Papers 10-17, NET Institute, revised Nov 2010.

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